Title: Business Offer
Main Characters: Lee Chaolan, Heihachi Mishima.
Spoilers: For Tekken 1.
Summary: Heihachi meets a boy in the street and a plan is born. Fate works in mysterious ways, sometimes.
Disclaimer: I don't own Tekken, or else I would be making it an anime series right now.
Quote: From The Godfather (1972): "I'm going to make him an offer he can't refuse."
A/N: So, this is the beginning of a series of Lee-centered fics I intend to write - intend being the key word - as an answer to the challenge of the 10_quotes LJ community. That is, it'll be ten fics that shall include somehow a quote from a list of the 100 Greatest Movies Ever provided in the site. Check the community out, guys, it's a very inspiring challenge!
It took me five months to write this first one; when I took the challenge, I chose Lee right away - he's sort of my favorite character right now - and I plan to depict moments of his life through the eyes of other Tekken characters. That said, I started writing a story from Wang's point of view, then discarded it, then started another story from Wang's point of view, then discarded it again, then realized I had a story about how Lee and Heihachi met all written in my head, and finally, after much work, was able to conclude it.
As always, guys, remember I'm not a native English speaker (writer, in this case XD) and warn me if you see any big mistakes so I can improve my writing!
Fate works in mysterious ways, sometimes.
Heihachi looks at the boy.
The boy wipes the blood off his mouth, silver shiny hair slicked with sweat. He doesn't see the head of the Mishima Zaibatsu, and probably doesn't realize what he's just done. He picks the small and oily paper bag from where he left it and prepares to run.
Behind him, four boys at least five years older than he is, beaten to the ground by a combination of speed and agility and sense of when to punch.
Of course, he is no genius. A trained martial artist would have ended him in five minutes – hell, even Kazuya could have ended him in five minutes. But the boy displayed a prowess beyond that of a child his age, especially a child his age without martial training, could have – and Heihachi can recognize potential when he sees it.
He has only seen potential that obvious in one person before.
He manages to catch the kid mid-flight, and analyzes the startled look in the eyes full of fear as the kid turns around to assess his new enemy.
"What's your name?" Heihachi asks, the boy's arm held in his grasp in a punishing grip.
The boy clenches his fists, trashes a little. "I didn't do anything – they were trying to steal my lunch—"
"You stole their lunch, I heard them saying it. Not that it matters." He relaxes his grip just a little, tries to look a little bit less menacing. "They were weak, you were strong. If you don't have enough strength to defend your possessions, then stronger people are going to take it from you."
The boy doesn't lower his guard, but stops trashing, takes in Heihachi's expression and frowns, as if intrigued.
"What is your name?"
The name rolls off the boy's tongue with too much pride for a half-pint. "Lee Chaolan."
Heihachi has a thought.
"I want to talk with you. We can go to a restaurant, if you'd like. Are you hungry?"
The boy tenses again, eyes wary. "Do you want to fuck me?"
Heihachi doesn't know what shocks him the most: the fact that the kid even knows the concept or that he appears to be asking the question seriously.
"Hell, no!" he says, disgusted. "You have some growing up and some turning woman to do before I consider fucking you. Goddamn it, now I'm not going to get the picture off my head."
He considers punching the boy for it, but decides it is not worth it; it is better to save the real moves for more deserving occasions. Instead, the head of the Zaibatsu picks a card out of his pocket.
"This is my phone number. Call me whenever you want, and maybe we can talk then."
He releases the boy, walks away – but he's nothing if not a chessmaster; he knows Lee's eyes are following his every movement, and he knows, as Lee knows, that he's not meant to waste away in such a meaningless life. He knows the boy will find a way to call him back.
He will regret it, eventually – when the times change and none of the people he fights for is able to stare at his face without narrowing their eyes in despise – but, for now, he is reflecting.
He asks around, a pile of money in his pockets and the mark of power in his eyes.
It isn't much. No one seems to know where the boy lives, only that he is very fast and that the very moment you let your eyes stray from your food is the moment the food is gone, held in his hands while he runs. A waiter in a shabby local restaurant tells him the boy comes from the Northeast; an old lady tells him he never asks for meals, only for clothes, and that he often complains of not being clean – in fact, that he does his best to keep himself tidy.
He hires a detective, gives him the boy's name, and a two-days ultimatum.
He receives a call a day later, around noon.
"Mr. Mishima?" the young voice says, soft but firm. "It's me, Lee Chaolan. I – I think I want you to pay me a sandwich." A pause. "I really want to."
After, and only after, he turns off the phone with the promise of a meeting, he allows himself a good laugh. He doesn't want to scare the boy yet.
He arrives at the local McDonald's half-an-hour later. Lee joins him in a second:
"I can't get too close to the door" he explains. "They think that I come here to pick pockets."
"Do you?" Heihachi asks, analyzing.
The boy shrugs. "I have to eat somehow."
He likes the attitude. "It's not your fault the other people aren't fast enough to stop you."
Lee shrugs again, and there is a little smile in the corner of his mouth now – a smile that he hides not out of humility, but out of wariness. Just as Heihachi is analyzing the boy, the boy is also analyzing Heihachi.
Because the boy enters the restaurant with the head of the Mishima family in tow, no voice raises to stop him – a fact in which he seems to bask – and he clearly takes advantage of it, choosing the best table and ordering the best sandwich, sitting regally as if he is the world's ruler.
Soon enough, he is eating, surprisingly tidily for a pickpocket – he uses the napkins with more insistence than a lot of CEO's Heihachi has met during the week – and his eyes are searching him from the table, less wary but still on guard.
Heihachi has made a mental list of things he wants to know. "Where are you from, boy?"
Lee makes a very vague gesture. "From Gansu, I think. My house was about two miles away from the nearest town."
"And why did you leave?"
The boy swallowed, his voice a little lower now. "They took me away, said I couldn't live alone. I wasn't going to go to an orphanage – Mom always said only filthy boys live on orphanages." He looks to his clothes, self-consciously. "Though now I'm filthy too."
Heihachi waves it off. "Cleanliness ain't that important, boy. The spirit is more important." Then he says: "Your family is dead?"
"Yep" Lee says, now focused on eating a French fry.
"What did they die of?"
"Dunno. Dad got sick. Then Mom got sick. Then Dad – he – well, he died. When they found us, Mom was already too far gone."
The boy's tone is now carefully measured, and the head of the Zaibatsu pretends he doesn't see the way the boy bites his lips, like he won't forget.
On their way out, Heihachi sees the boy steal the wallet of a distracted businessman. He's very good at it.
The detective comes back with nothing in hands. Apparently, Chaolan is not exactly a rare name, and it is hard to find background information on a pickpocket. Heihachi yells at him, gives him the new information and tells him to keep searching if he wants his payment.
He calls home and asks about Kazuya; the tutor tells him he is apparently failing at school, but continues his martial training with military discipline.
Military isn't good enough, he thinks.
He makes a list of things he needs to find out.
"How did you escape them?"
It is their second meeting, and this time they are dining at an expensive, higher-level restaurant. Heihachi appreciates the way the boy doesn't look the least bit intimidated by the frowns on the other patrons' faces; he reads carefully the menu, asking for Heihachi's help with the more uncommon characters, and orders his meal as if he has been to this kind of places since the very day he was born.
"The people in charge of you. You said that they took you from your house and said you couldn't live alone, didn't you? How did you escape from them?"
Lee swallows a forkful of spaghetti. "They took me to see my mother's funeral. At the wake, I told them I really wanted to go to the toilet, I needed to throw up. They stayed waiting outside and I jumped over the window."
"And I hid in some farmer's barn for a couple of days, waited until the ruckus died out and they stopped looking for me – and then I went to the road. I had to walk a lot, but people would sometimes give me a ride."
"You hid in a barn for two days" Heihachi repeats, slowly. "Weren't you hungry?"
The boy shrugs. "It's not like I'll die if I don't eat for a couple of days. Hunger doesn't bother me that much."
Heihachi looks – stares – at him, and the boy looks back, a little bit tense again.
"What happened to your hair?"
The boy relaxes a little. "I got sick, too."
The head of the Zaibatsu frowns. "You got sick? What kind of sickness is that?"
Lee frowns, trying to remember. "Doctor said I had trauma. Whatever that is. But he said it ain't gonna kill me."
Heihachi is not exactly a trustful person, mind you, but, at this moment, he believes it.
"Talk to your father, Kazuya" the tutor says, and hands the phone over.
He hears a sigh, and a grunt that signals his older son is on the line. "Good morning, father."
"'Morning" Heihachi says, irritably. The boy's stupidity angers him to no end. "Have you been training?"
"Yes, father" Kazuya says in a monotone. "Every day, just as you told me."
Heihachi purses his lips. "Have you been dedicating yourself to the training?"
"Yes, father. As always."
"Don't take it for granted, boy. Very soon you will find yourself in a difficult position because of it."
Kazuya just grunts. Heihachi thinks the boy is lucky not to be currently in the range of his fist.
"I'll bring a surprise for you when I come back" he says, slow and deadly, and doesn't wait to hear the hitch on Kazuya's breath to turn off the phone.
The next time, he'll tell the tutor his time is valuable.
The plan is taking roots, firmly.
When you are in a position of power, every action must be calculated. Even the most casual ones.
Heihachi, who has been in a position of power for many years and yearned for it many more years before his conquest, is a master of this concept. After all, if even such a thing is an afternoon walk through the neighborhood in Shanghai can have meaningful consequences, shouldn't we be able to plan things beforehand and take advantage of it?
"I've been thinking about what you said to me", Lee says, as they walk through the streets of Shanghai. "About me not needing to worry about taking stuff from other people, you know? That the other people should be strong enough not to let me steal from them. Or beat them up."
Heihachi makes a noncommittal grunt that the boy takes as permission to go on:
"Yesterday I broke into a coffee shop when they weren't looking and tried to steal a sandwich, but the owner caught me doing it."
The head of the Mishima family looks at him, not bothering to conceal his interest. "And what did you do?"
"I started crying and begging him to let me go." Lee looks expectantly at him.
Heihachi feels a surge of disappointment, but, before he opens his mouth to express it, the boy intervenes, holds his hands up in the air: "Wait, listen to me before you say anything."
So far, his conversations with the boy have been mostly worthwhile, so Heihachi decides to humor him. "Explain, then."
Lee breathes in, breathes out, looking anxious. The head of the Zaibatsu realizes, suddenly, that his approval means something to the boy, and files away the information carefully, paying attention to the speech.
"The guy was a lot stronger than me, he caught me by the arm and wasn't gonna let go. And then I remembered what you said, you know? It's not his fault if I'm not strong enough to beat him. I shouldn't have tried to steal his place, if I couldn't beat him. I had to take the consequences."
Heihachi finds that to be a very convincing summary of what he believes, and is astounded that the boy managed to come up with it in the few days they have known each other. It appears, and he files that information too, that Lee is not only talented in a physical sense, but in an intellectual sense as well – very much unlike Kazuya, who is failing at school…
"But then I thought" Lee starts again, and Heihachi perks up, "that just because I have to take the consequences, it doesn't mean I can't learn from it. That's why I started screaming, because people were coming to see and telling him to let me go."
"I see", and Heihachi thinks he is starting to.
"Maybe I shouldn't have cried, but, if I just stayed there, he'd have me arrested and I'd have to go to an orphanage, and it would all be for nothing, you know? So I cry, and he lets me go, and I'll work and get faster – and next time, he won't catch me." Lee looks up at him with that same anxious look, fidgeting with his hands in a childish way.
Heihachi decides, then.
Adoption processes aren't exactly an easy thing, but Heihachi has money enough to make it easy.
"I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse", he mutters to himself.
Don't get him wrong. He doesn't care about the boy. The boy hasn't moved him with his speech, and, though his theory makes sense, you have to accept victory with dignity, not with demonstrations of self-pity.
He can see potential in him, potential that shouldn't be wasted, but Kazuya has more. Heihachi doesn't care for Lee's narcissism, the way he is constantly on the edge, trying to guess what will please him more. He is not a Samaritan to look after lost kids, nor is he looking for a family he can't find, or for an heir to his empire. He is not looking for anything in the boy himself.
The truth is that he admires the boy's instinct of survival, his eagerness to suck every last drop of his potential; a sense of self-worth that does not make room for humility, unless it's calculated, and more importantly, a disposition to learn from every situation. Heihachi managed to turn Kazuya from a worthless sheep-faced boy into a determined and ruthless fighter, but Kazuya still lets his hate for Heihachi get in the way of learning from him – something Lee probably would not do.
And the reason why he is going to bring Lee with him is to motivate Kazuya to copy his behavior. To, finally, make Kazuya the perfect heir. And if, in the end, Kazuya fails – for such is the path his son is treading right now –, Lee can make work as a backup. He has enough qualities to command the Zaibatsu.
That said, once Lee's complete trust is conquered, he will become a tool for his purposes. A very sophisticated one, but a tool nonetheless.
Fate works in mysterious ways, sometimes.
He looks at Lee Chaolan from across the desk of the office he has been occupying for the week, and says:
"I'm willing to adopt you."
Even if it doesn't work, it is worth saying it just to see the boy raise his head fast enough to make his neck crick. "You're what?"
"I'm willing to adopt you", Heihachi repeats, slowly, very aware that this is probably going to be an important moment in his life. "I have all the paperwork ready, but I ain't gonna kidnap you. It's only if you want."
Lee just looks at him for a second, mouth slightly open.
"You—you mean like – I'm going to be your son?" he asks, his voice heavy with disbelief. "And live in your mansion?"
"Yes", Heihachi informs him, in a business manner. "I live, as I'm sure you must have guessed, in Japan. You're gonna have to move with me, and learn Japanese. Given that you have nothing here, it's not going to be a problem."
Lee sits down, his expression blank – as if somewhere along the way, his brain had to stop and reboot. It's very interesting – Heihachi can almost see the fear taking over the grayish irises.
"What's the catch?" he asks, his voice carefully controlled.
"The catch. You're not a nice guy. I can tell that much. What's in it for you?"
A sigh. Straight to the point. "I have a son."
"His name is Kazuya. He is prodigious, like you. He's been under martial arts training since the age of three. He is about your age, now – you're what, nine? – and he's shown to be able to defeat men who have trained for twice as long as him."
"However" he says, and punctuates it by looking into Lee's eyes, "Kazuya doesn't take advantage of his potential. He doesn't try to learn from every situation. He trains with military discipline, but he lacks, how can we say, the spirit. I'm afraid he might end up not being a suitable heir to the Zaibatsu."
"Huh", Lee answers, and the fear of his eyes has been replaced by the narcissism he is wont to fall into. "And you think I—"
"I think you could be a good example to him. Show him how it's done, you know. And, in the end, who knows?" Heihachi doesn't look like it, but he can play people. He just usually doesn't bother to. "You might end up proving to be a better heir than him, after all."
Lee takes a very deep breath, his eyes almost comically wide; his hands tremble a little, and he looks away, unable to withstand Heihachi's stare. Heihachi waits.
The question comes out slightly soft. "Can I have new clothes?"
Heihachi snorts. "You can have a new wardrobe every day, if you need it that much."
"And – are there – are there bathrooms in your house?"
"Of course", the head of the Zaibatsu says with impatience. "What do you think we are, pigs? You'll have your own bathroom, in your room."
At this, Lee closes his eyes, takes another deep breath. Heihachi also does so; his office smells of pine.
The boy mutters something.
"Okay", Lee repeats, his voice higher and excited. "Okay. I accept. You need someone else to be a – er – suitable heir. And I – I have nothing to lose, I think." He pauses. "And we met in the street. Sounds like fate."
Heihachi agrees. Not vocally, because he doesn't want to sound like an idiot, but he does.
He will regret it, eventually – when the times change and none of the people he fights for is able to stare at his face without narrowing their eyes in despise – but, for now, he is enjoying a glass of wine in his private airplane;
Lee Chaolan is in a seat at his side, openly enjoying the view outside the window. Heihachi had talked to Kazuya earlier, told him about his new brother. Kazuya's voice had sounded clipped with rage.
He smiles to himself smugly.
A/N: This is, of course, my take on the events - I've looked for canon sources as to how Heihachi and Lee met, but story sources for Tekken aren't very reliable, and I may have gotten my facts wrong somewhere. Still, when I was planning this fic, I wondered: why didn't Heihachi like Kazuya? I mean, of course, pre-cliff!Kazuya was too shy and childlike, but, from all I've gathered, post-cliff!Kazuya became very cold and determined to bring his father down, which I believe would translate into a lot of effort put into training. Why, then, would Heihachi bring Lee to the house, to piss him off? My answer is that, in Heihachi's opinion, though Kazuya's ruthlessness was acceptable, Kazuya let his hate for Heihachi get in the way of becoming an independent, and of learning from Heihachi, who, though a bastard, could be a font of knowledge. That's why Lee, who's Tekken's official Yes Man, called Heihachi's attention beyond his fighting prowess; Lee can hate and work against the Mishima, but he doesn't let this hate define the person he is.
Thank you for putting up with me until now! Please review!
Thanks to: Harada-sensei and Namco!